Kiyeng relishes new steeplechase world champion status

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There is moment when most people' s lives could have followed a very different path, and World 3,000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Jepkemoi Kiyeng's victory in Beijing confirmed just that.

Until 2012, Kiyeng was an average athlete in the 5,000m race. But a decision by her coach to ask her to shift to the water and barrier event has finally paid dividend three years down the line.

"I was not keen to run 5,000m, but my coach asked me to shift focus. There was also a lot of competition unlike in the steeplechase. So it was earlier for me to shift because I had the endurance and I only needed to work on my jumps," she said Friday in Nairobi.

For all her struggles, Kiyeng never gave up home, and her determination and character played a role for an athlete whose professional career might have ended before it had even begun.

"Now I am the world champion," she said. "It is the best reward for my frustrations in 5,000m and the efforts I put in training. It is the sweetest victory in my athletics career."

Two years ago, Kiyeng, 23, was a distant sixth at the World Championships in Moscow, but she returned to the competition more matured and ready for tussle to reclaim the gold Kenya first won through Milcah Chemos.

"I always knew that she had the talent and skills to jump hurdles and win a steeplechase race," Chemos said on Friday in Nairobi. "She has always been consistent and it was only a matter of time for her to take over. It is good she was able to fit into my shoes and bring home the medal, now that I'm out injured."

For Kiyeng, going into the women's 3,000m steeplechase final, the only certainty was that there would be a new world champion because none of the five previous winners had made it to Beijing. That remained the only certainty for 2999 metres of the race as the winner only emerged right at the end.

Although no former champions were in the final, there were two past medallists in the form of 2013 bronze medallist Sofia Assefa from Ethiopia and 2011 silver medallist Habiba Ghribi from Tunisia.

Germany's Gesa Felicitas Krause took the lead with Ethiopia' s Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew and Kenyans Hyvin Kiyeng and Virginia Nyambura very close.

Kiyeng then powered past both of them to win in 9:19.11. Ghribi clocked 9:19.24 to take her third global championships silver medal while Krause got bronze in 9:19.25.

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